Imagining What Happens When the Robots Take the Wheel

Matthew DeBord in the New York Times:

An appalling statistic appears toward the end of “No One at the Wheel,” Samuel Schwartz’s valuable primer on self-driving cars: In the century since the automobile arrived on the scene, 70 million people have been killed by it, and four billion injured.

Schwartz, who served as New York City’s traffic commissioner in the 1980s, was nicknamed “Gridlock Sam” for his devotion to the conundrum of traffic (and for coining the loathsome term). He knows everything about how cars and people don’t get along, having been on the front lines. This book — written in an earnest, conversational style — is his attempt to grapple with a fresh threat that’s appeared after decades of progress.

Futurists may have promised us flying cars, but what we’re going to get instead are driverless ones, and Schwartz’s is the first comprehensive analysis of what that will mean on the ground. Most likely, there will be far fewer fatalities. With nearly 40,000 people killed in 2017 in the United States alone, that’s a huge benefit. But cars that can drive themselves will bring with them other knotty societal problems.

More here.

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